ITV News' Martin Stew reports on the growing number of companies introducing hosepipe bans amid concerns about rivers running dry and the prospect of drought in England and Wales
Hosepipe bans have come into effect in parts of England following the driest July on record.
Southern Water announced the move from Friday, August 5 for customers in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight, while the measure will follow for South East Water customers in Kent and Sussex, on August 12.
A hosepipe ban will also be introduced by Yorkshire Water from August 26.
In Wales, Welsh Water announced a ban from Friday, August 19 for customers in Pembrokeshire.
Another hosepipe ban will come into force in Cornwall and parts of North Devon from Tuesday, August 23, South West Water announced as it unveiled its latest measures to curb water usage.
The bans mean people in affected areas will not be allowed to water their gardens, wash cars or fill up paddling pools.
Other companies are warning they may need to follow suit if the sustained dry weather and high demand continue, with people across the country being urged to use water wisely.
But which areas are introducing hosepipe bans, what are the rules around them and will people be fined if they get caught watering their gardens during the ban?
What areas are the hosepipe bans in?
Southern Water has been restricting the use of hosepipes and sprinklers within Hampshire and the Isle of Wight since Friday, August 5, under what's known as a Temporary Use Ban.
South East Water will follow with restrictions in place in Kent and Sussex from Friday, August 12 until further notice.
Manx Utilities also introduced a temporary ban in the Isle of Man on Friday, July 29.
Yorkshire Water's hosepipe ban will be introduced from Friday, 26 August.
And Welsh Water has imposed a Temporary Use Ban from 8am on Friday, August 19, for customers in Pembrokeshire.
A hosepipe ban will come into force in Cornwall and parts of North Devon on Friday, 12 August.
South West Water bosses say the temporary ban is the next step in the company’s drought plan and will come into effect from at 00.01am.
Activities covered by the hosepipe ban include using hosepipes to water gardens or clean cars.
Thames Water has also confirmed it is planning to introduce a hosepipe ban 'in the coming weeks.'
The utilities company did not confirm when the water-saving-measure would take effect.
"In the meantime we continue to urge our customers to only use what they need for their essential use," a Thames Water spokesperson said.
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Could more areas face bans?
Meanwhile, South Staffs Water said: "We currently don’t have any plans in place to introduce hosepipe bans."
Severn Trent Water, which said there hadn't been a hosepipe ban in the region for more than 27 years, has not introduced a ban, but said it would continue to monitor reservoir levels and demand for water.
Affinity Water, which supplies water to parts of south-east England and London, said that it should not need to introduce restrictions this year, but was dependent on rainfall over the coming winter to refill groundwater aquifers for next spring and summer.
Anglian Water said it is not currently planning on any hosepipe bans this year but added river levels were being closely watched.
“Although one dry winter doesn’t give us cause for concern now, we also need to make sure we conserve enough water for tomorrow, next month and next summer too," said a spokesperson.
“Certainly if we have a second dry winter this year, we won’t be in the same position next spring."
Yorkshire Water said the area had received some rain, which had slowed the rate at which water levels were falling in its reservoirs and enabled it to take some water from the area’s rivers.
Reservoirs in the region are 51% full, down 2% over the week, a spokesman said, adding that the message was still to ask customers to use water wisely.
However, there is currently no suggestion of a nationwide ban as the situation is less critical further north.
Correspondent Ian Woods outlines how customers will be affected by the bans
Why is there a hosepipe ban?
The moves to curb water use come after England has seen the driest eight-month period from November 2021 to July since 1976, when much of the country struggled in extreme drought.
Last month saw a record-breaking heatwave and the driest July in records dating back to 1836 for south east and central southern England, with an average of only 5.0mm of rain last month while East Anglia had 5.4mm.
For England as a whole last month was the driest since 1935, Met Office figures show.
The country could be in drought this month if the dry conditions continue, the Environment Agency has warned.
South Western said the situation threatens to damage the wildlife habitats of the River Test and River Itchen.
South East Water said the "extreme weather conditions" across the UK have left them with "no choice" but to introduce restrictions.
The south east only saw 8% of its average rainfall for the month in July, the company said, while the long-term forecast for August and September is for similar weather.
It added: “The demand for water this summer has broken all previous records, including the Covid lockdown heatwave. We have been producing an additional 120 million litres of water a day to supply our customers, which is the equivalent of supplying a further four towns the size of Maidstone or Eastbourne, daily
“We are taking this step to ensure we have enough water for both essential use and to protect the environment. This will enable us to also reduce the amount of water we need to take from already stressed local water sources.”
What are the rules for households?
Households are not allowed to use a hosepipe, garden sprinklers and irrigation systems connected to the mains, for any of the following uses:
Watering a garden using a hosepipe
Cleaning a private motor-vehicle using a hosepipe
Watering plants on domestic or other non-commercial premises using a hosepipe
Cleaning a private leisure boat using a hosepipe
Filling or maintaining a domestic swimming or paddling pool
Drawing water, using a hosepipe, for domestic recreational use
Filling or maintaining a domestic pond using a hosepipe
Filling or maintaining an ornamental fountain
Cleaning walls, or windows, of domestic premises using a hosepipe;
Cleaning paths or patios using a hosepipe
Cleaning other artificial outdoor surfaces using a hosepipe
However, some people may still be able to use a hosepipe under exceptional circumstances.
They include people who are using a hose for "unavoidable" health and safety reasons, blue badge holders and those who have an approved drip or trickle irrigation system fitted with a pressure reducing valve (PRV) and timer.
Those using hosepipes for the purpose of preventing or controlling the spread of causative agents or disease, or for the health and safety of animals including fish, are permitted to continue doing so.
Using a hosepipe that is connected to a water butt or other recycled water storage system will not be restricted.
You don't need to apply for an exemption. However, South East Water said it will question a person's water use if it receives reports of a hosepipe being used.
Are the rules the same for businesses?
Businesses such as garden centres and car washes, and those that must water crops, vegetables or fruits, are not included in the ban and can continue to operate normally.
Could I be fined for using my hosepipe?
Yes. Each water utility company sets its own terms and conditions regarding prosecution, but people could face a penalty of up to £2,000 for continuing to ignore the rules.
South East Water says anyone who flouts the rules "may be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £1,000."
Residents living in an area where a hosepipe ban is in force are urged to check with their water company on their specific policy.